As a German national, citizen of the world, and mindful witness to history over half a century, I would like to give my integral perspective on this important day.
There are more aspects to this event than I thought when I started writing, which is typical for Integral analysis. I try to shed light upon all four angles of reality: internal and external, both individual and collective views of the complex interconnected reality of things.
What Happened Thirty Years ago?
A major European country, Germany, was officially reunited after 45 years of political separation by a guarded wall with deadly traps, costing the life to officially 790 people. Capitalism or the so-called Free Market system of the West took over Socialism or Communism, prevailing in the East, leading to the end of the East-West cleavage and the dogmatic “Iron Curtain”.
Some would object that there were probably better ways to reunite, and the learnings could have been mutual in that fantastic merger. Also, the people of the East were ‘repossessed’ of their ‘common’ assets, but that is capitalism’s nature. The winner takes it all and has every right to celebrate. Humanity made a step forward, no doubt, as every time a wall fell somewhere. Especially in a time where more walls get promoted and built, and existing walls resist.
Many Walls in the World
When we see the world united, step by step, we will have other reasons to celebrate. I did a little research: Currently, we have seven majors wall to bring down: North/South Korea, Mexico/US, Spain/Morocco, Egypt/Gaza, Israel/Palestine, Greece/Turkey (Cyprus), India/Pakistan. We also hope that the wall between Ireland and North Ireland will not be back with Brexit and the UUK (Un-United Kingdom) will not build again or recycle Hadrian’s wall with Scotland, once they are independent, as another consequence of current politics.
Why are Walls bad? Organisational Debt build up!
Divisions and competition can have a positive impact, but generally, they cost the system more energy than they bring in terms of a healthy dynamic. Organisational Debt builds up as entropy level goes higher. Walls are expensive to the bigger system, something that the members and defenders of smaller systems will always deny. In territorial organisations, ask Brexiters, Alt-Righters or any other small silo thinkers, they will always tell you. In a corporate environment, silos and power games don’t play well, as we all know. In technical solutions, when we don’t think in bigger systems and neglect interconnectivity, we will have Technical Debt growing and interest rates rising.
The Origin of Walls and Levels of Worldviews
Where is the wall concept originating? Spiral Organisation Dynamics is excellent for understanding why people are like they are: Everybody is right from where they stand! Meaning in which stage of psychological evolution of the mind they are.
Not everybody is familiar with categories of world views or has ever thought in such terms and don’t even like the idea of categorisation or believe in ‘memes’. However, the earth was round before Galileo found out roughly 400 years ago that it was not flat. This fact is now known to a majority of people as a consensus of something not directly observable but real. Not everyone can make trips in a space shuttle and see on their own, so it is still a problem for some. Spiral Dynamics is in the same case, only people on top of the spiral of development can see below what happens, just as with intelligence: stupidity cannot apprehend it.
Spiral Organisation Dynamics as a Working Hypothesis
Spiral Organisation Dynamics teaches us that people’s mindsets and worldviews come in categories. Like a child growing up and going through characteristic stages of development, Humanity itself grows in defined stages of worldview through history and geography. From prehistory to modern times, people and populations have changed, step by step, and has grown up, in a way that some smart researchers could understand and map out quite recently. It turns out that the evolution of the human mind is following a vector, defined by direction and speed.
Evolution is always heterogeneous over geographies, time and individuals. It is a reason why we have such a diversity of worldview-levels around us. From the Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert who live today same as us in the Stone Age, over to President Trump, acting head of our civilisation, to the exquisite system thinkers and future designers of our time, there is quite a spread, we can agree. Some groups and individuals seem to have more extensive views on the connectedness of the World and the Universe than others. However, we can see even larger groups of people having very narrow views of the world or whatever systems they are part of and who are limited in smaller circles of influence, with a reduced level of perception of connectedness.
Walls are typical for power-driven (red meme) people and organisations; they need to protect their power and see anybody outside of their circle of influence or system as ‘them’ enemies. Red is a profoundly ethnocentric and exclusive meme. It needs conformist blue meme people to keep it together, defend and expand. Unfortunately, from red/blue to yellow/teal levels, where we see the system’s complexities and dependencies and use empathy as a first step of our protocol to an open approach of the world, there are a few evolutionary steps in-between. Walls are inside people, and they build them in the physical world, similar to other concepts, jealous gods and absolute religions, polarising political parties. Every person with a conviction or even a strong opinion is building a wall.
Walls are also a symptom for another prevalent lack of personal development, which is related to the identification of the individual. A grown-up person does not need to identify with colours of skin, football clubs or national flags. A mature, developed person found roots and centres inside, identifying as an individual.
The good thing is that even though evolutionary steps take time for every individual and organisation, they happen everywhere and any time, in parallel. Which brings us to the interesting question of the critical mass necessary to spark, trigger and operate growth and change on a global level.
Critical Mass for Change
We can observe a few rules around the critical mass to change. Single person’s ideas can trigger landmark changes, then sparking in small groups, before spiralling to small movements of less than 10 ppm (parts per million) active innovators, finally going to the 1% of early adopters, and from 3% spread virally globally.
Walls are Obsolete to Grown-Up Humans
When we and our mind grow up, barriers and borders cease to be perceived as needed and become gradually bothersome and irritating. It is easy to make a scale of development with people’s attraction to walls. Complaining and fighting the concept of walls or wanting to bring them down without considering the growth of the individuals is useless. Walls will be built again, just otherwise. We can observe competing divisions in any organisation, under different names, like silos, divisions, entities, and even single persons. Some persons have the wall just around themselves, being protective about knowledge and simple information.
Is trying to change people and teach them to become part of a bigger system the right solution? I doubt it, and we would know if this would work. My hypothesis is another one: why don’t we leave people where they are but change the organisation around to fit them? There are some ways to do that, and I explain these in my Augmented Leadership teachings. The point is not in breaking silos (and the walls between them) but in making them work together smoothly, in efficiently communicating teams.
Walls are the Symptom, not the disease
Let me conclude for today, and sorry, especially to my wife, for the lengthy and maybe extensive article about just one birthday of one wall.
The Berlin Wall was a great symbol of a divided world, and when it fell, we all felt the joy. If we understand the root cause of divisions better, we will accelerate the progress in tearing down a few more soon and start building organisations based on interconnectedness instead of divisions and power games. We don’t need to change the mindsets of masses of people; we need a critical mass of grown-up mindsets in the right positions.
More to read about building better organisations, territorial, corporate, or NGOs, in my blog: http://AL.guru. Subscribe to my newsletter below!